Columbus Crew SC — fresh off a road trip across the country for a match at the LA Galaxy last weekend — returns home this Saturday against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Black & Gold’s third straight meeting against the Western Conference.
The Caps currently sit in ninth place in the League’s Western Conference with 31 points — just four off the red line, which means a playoff spot come late-October. With this being the case, Crew SC defender Corey Ashe says that Vancouver has been similar to the Black & Gold this season in terms of results this season — and reminds his team that although the Canadian-based club is at the bottom of the table, Columbus must remain conscious of the danger they present.
“I think the big thing is that the Whitecaps are kind of in the same position as us, so one thing that they are going to bring is heart,” he says. “We’re going to have to match that intensity because just like we are, they are trying to get into a playoff spot.”
Although they’ve scored just one goal in their last seven matches, the Blue and White possess a number of attacking threats in the form of midfielders Pedro Morales and Christian Bolaños — who have netted six goals and notched five assists each this season.
But with the return of defender Gaston Sauro — who started his first match last week against LA since suffering a knee injury at Toronto FC on May 21 — Black & Gold midfielder Ethan Finlay is confident in his side’s ability to defend, and stresses the importance of the Columbus back line down the stretch of the season.
“I like our defense against Vancouver’s offense. I have a lot of confidence in what we’re doing, especially in the center-back position, and I think that gives us more confidence down the middle of the field,” he says. "It gives us a lot of confidence that we have guys back there that are solid throughout the backbone of our team.”
By the numbers, Vancouver appears to be offering a number of scoring opportunities to their opponents this season — as they hold the worst goal differential in the Western Conference (-10), and goalkeeper David Ousted is tied for second in MLS for most saves (99). And as these openings appear on the pitch Saturday night, Sauro notes that Crew SC must continue to push forward and take advantage with just eight matches left in the season.
“We can’t stop, we have to keep going. We are just eight points to the line, and we just can’t think about what happened before,” he says. “I think we can do a good job — and I think at home, we can be strong.”
Kickoff from MAPFRE Stadium in this East-versus-West clash is set for 6:00 p.m., Tune in by watching The CW, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and BCSN2, as well as radio streams available on CD102.5 FM, La Mega 103.1 FM and ColumbusCrewSC.com. TICKETS